"Setting down my bags" Arrington's February Letter

The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.
— Isaiah 58: 11-12

Dear Beloved Community,

On Monday night, I walked the half-mile home from the Forest Hills T-stop intent on getting home to say goodnight to my daughter. The #32 bus showed an 18-minute delay, so I set out with clear purpose and snow in my face. The slippery terrain heightened attention to each step. And while I sadly did not arrive home before Vaeh fell asleep, I did make record time, beat the bus, and was enlivened by the assuring combo of purpose, a little bit of challenge, a timeline, and a very clear destination.  

I am much less comfortable with the uncertainty and unknown that I enter in transitions and that we all may enter in Lent.

As I follow Jesus into the wilderness over these next 40 days, I am likely to stuff 40 bagels, candy bars, and a month’s supply of tea-bags into the hidden pockets of one of my many bags, which also hold spiritual books, a journal, calendar, hand sanitizer, AAA batteries, inspirational quotes, a three-pronged outlet adaptor, and eyeliner – the props necessary for safely entering each day.

For these next 40-days of Lent, I wonder…

· How I could set down my many bags of comfort provisions and carry in my heart the words of Isaiah*

The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.

·  How might taking to heart and “remembering that I am dust, and to dust I shall return” give purpose and a bit of urgency to each of my steps?

· And if all else fails, how might I fall into the wisdom of Libby Gatti and Richard from MANNA, and find someone whom I can quietly walk or stand alongside?

Blessings on your journeys into Lent,

The Reverend Arrington Chambliss

*Isaiah 58:1-12, the incredible lectionary text for Ash Wednesday:

Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God. “Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?” Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.